If you have invested in a solar photovoltaic (PV) system for your property, you’re familiar with all the great benefits of going solar. You also know as well as we do that your return on investment (ROI) is directly tied to your system’s performance. In order to maximize your savings and ROI, your system needs to be carefully monitored and fully optimized.
If your system is down for a day, that’s real money out of your pocket, and a missed opportunity to save on energy costs and to recoup your investment. In order to keep your solar investment performing at ideal efficiency, it is important to provide fundamental maintenance and inspection on a regular basis.
The average solar array has a lifespan of approximately 25 years, and new technologies are helping to lengthen that. Just like the maintenance you would need on a building over that time frame, you are going to want to make sure you understand the operations and maintenance associated with a solar PV system.
Operations and maintenance programs generally have three goals; production optimization, revenue management, and system maintenance (both preventative and corrective). After a customer invests in solar, it is important for the system to perform at expected levels to meet ROI expectations through reduced energy costs and Solar Renewable Energy Certificate (SREC) generation, both which help recoup the costs associated with the purchase of the system. As both of these results are directly dependent on the amount of energy produced by the array, it is important for a system to be performing at optimal levels in order for solar owners to get the full value out of their investment.
Let's take a look at five areas of service your solar provider should address to meet these goals:
System and production monitoring:
A real-time web based monitoring system measures the production of electricity and sends an alert if a problem is detected. Having visibility into the system's energy production allows the solar service provider to track the system performance and spot any anomalies in production level. Many systems include visual displays of a company's daily/weekly/monthly/annual energy generation and cost savings, making them valuable green marketing tools.
Solar offers significant financial benefits through SRECs. A solar service provider can help you manage this process, watching the SREC market closely to ensure you receive the best return on investment possible. SREC management services typically include quarterly performance information, state filing administration services, quarterly and annual SREC reporting, market information communications, SREC tracking and trading, and scheduled quarterly SREC payments.
Annual preventative maintenance:
With any mechanical system, proper upkeep is crucial to maintain optimal production and a long life. The solar services provider will conduct a site visit to complete an exhaustive inspection of all of the system's mechanical, electrical and PV components. In conjunction with this service, solar service providers usually include a repair service that will quickly diagnose issues and correct problems to mitigate system downtime.
Net metering support:
Net metering is the process of receiving credit for electricity produced in excess of what is needed on site. An experienced project developer, installer or service provider will establish net metering for your solar system and help you track your production to make sure you are receiving the appropriate credits on your electric bill. In the summer months when production is at its peak, many solar customers create credits on their utility bills and use those credits in the winter months when solar energy production decreases. Having an experienced solar company act as your liaison between you and your utility provider will help ensure proper billing and credits to your electric bill account.
Corrective maintenance includes such work as making repairs, restorations, and improvements that may not be covered under regular scheduled maintenance. Occasionally issues arise that are not covered as part of scheduled maintenance, such as warranty claims. This service ensures your solar array is protected from any unexpected issues. The solar service provider can help you resolve these issues quickly.
You've made a big investment in solar, and that investment will reap rewards for years to come. An experienced solar services provider can help you manage production optimization, revenue management and system maintenance over the life of the system.